Mast fears must be listened to

Norwich Evening News

22 July 2005 12:22

A Norwich MP has branded the current planning on the siting of mobile phone masts as totally inadequate.

Campaigners from around the country joined more than 100 MPs and a panel of experts at a mast meeting at Westminster in London chaired by Dr Ian Gibson, Norwich North MP.

"It's completely inadequate, doesn't take into account the health fears of people who live near them, and doesn't take into account the Stewart Report," said Dr Gibson, referring to the flaws in the planning laws as they currently stand.

"They talk about consultation but I've never met anyone who feels they've been consulted about the location of a mast," he said.

"This is an important public health issue following the advice of Sir William Stewart and the meeting has supported the proposal that all mast applications should be subject to full planning."

Dr Gibson, a long-time supporter of the Evening News' Put Masts on Hold campaign, said local people should be fully consulted and weight given to concerns about the perceived effects of masts as well as actual effects.

Dr Gerd Oberfeld, a leading public health expert from Salzburg University, Eileen O'Connor of the Radiation Research Trust, and Dr Michael Clark, of the Health Protection Agency, were among some of the experts at Tuesday's meeting.

Stuart Eke, from the Mobile Operators Association, was also at the event which told how there was a lack of independent research into the possible effects of over exposure to microwave radiation from some 40,000 masts in the UK.

"The Government should fund research into areas where cancer clusters have arisen round telecommunications masts," said Dr Gibson.

"The Office of National Statistics should provide the full information on actual cases of cancer and motor-neurone disease."

It was also agreed that the TETRA system used by the emergency services should be "reviewed in all aspects of its safety".

Campaigners from across Norfolk have added their support to findings from the meeting and hope to be supported by the Government.

Graham Barker, a campaigner who lives on Lloyd Road, Taverham, near a replacement mast on Fakenham Road, said: "There's no doubt that health effects are a big concern – if they are going to take that into consideration we're all for it.

"What we would like is for anything that does come in to be retrospective but I don't suppose it will be."

Mr Barker said he also hoped that any changes to planning laws would apply to planning inspectors and make it more difficult for them to uphold appeals by phone companies.

Matthew Pennington, 43, a member of the Campaign Against Tetra Siting (CATS), lives on Yarmouth Road, not far from a controversial O2 mast on top of North Walsham police station.

"I certainly agree that the planning system should be gone over carefully," said Mr Pennington.

"But it still doesn't solve the fact that we still don't have an adequate safety guidance on something everyone says we don't know for sure is safe."


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